OSU-Texas: Key Matchups & Prediction

Robert Allen offers his key matchups and prediction for Saturday night's nationally televised game between the 13th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys and the third-ranked Texas Longhorns at Boone Pickens Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. (Central time)

1. OSU cornerback Perrish Cox
vs. Texas wide receiver Jordan Shipley
After watching a considerable amount of tape on Texas, I've seen teams defend Shipley both ways. Oklahoma, which has a stellar defense up front, maybe the best defensive line in college football, did everything they could to take Jordan Shipley out of the game and you could tell it really messed with Colt McCoy and caused the Longhorns offense to struggle. In the second half the freshman track star Goodwin came through with some big catches, but it was still a sub-par day for the Longhorns on offense.

Missouri played it straight with Shipley last week, and he and McCoy got into a comfort zone early. Colorado played it straight and even single covered Shipley and almost won, but that was because of other breakdowns in the game by Texas.

I think you take Shipley out of the game as best you can and make Texas and McCoy beat you with someone else. Perrish Cox can do that and has practice as he took out the immensely talented A.J. Green in the Georgia game. Cox can't be on Shipley on every play but he can be moved around to catch the Texas wideout a bunch.

But just as important as their battle from the line of scrimmage will be their battle in returns. They won't go head to head there, but the numbers they run up will go a long way toward determining who wins the game.

Edge: Even

2. OSU offensive line and backs
vs. Texas defensive front seven
It's absolutely critical that the Cowboys be able to run the ball for two reasons. First, this OSU offense has to stay balanced. If it becomes one dimensional then it becomes much less effective. The man pulling the strings, head coach Mike Gundy knows that.

Second, the Cowboys have to stay in less than predictable situations on second and third downs. They need at least four yards on first down to keep it at second-and-six or less. This offense is able to stay balanced and present the defense with an either/or option if they can run. The offense needs to complete some passes on first down too.

Texas has that highly vaunted run defense. They are good but Colorado exposed them. The Longhorns have not played that many good running teams and most teams were taken out of the run by the scoreboard, usually by halftime. Plenty of respect here for Texas, their speed like Sergio KIndle and their brawn like Lamarr Houston. However, the Cowboys have the cryptonite for that with offensive left tackle Russell Okung. Okung drilled Brian Orakpo last season and he'll drill somebody else this season.

Edge: Slight Edge to OSU

3. OSU special teams vs. Texas special teams
It doesn't matter if it is Shipley on returns or some of those great athletes that are working a block on a punt, Texas is stout on special teams. However, so is Oklahoma State. Texas has six special teams touchdowns, while the Cowboys have two. The actual matchup is closer than the touchdown total. Both teams have solid kickers ,and Dan Bailey is on a real roll right now. The Cowboys have the advantage with punter Quinn Sharp. Sharp is also a major weapon on kickoffs with his touchbacks.

Edge: Slight Edge to Texas

PREDICTION
It's almost impossible to judge this one as it has been one of the craziest games of the year every season. I prefer and believe we will see a game similar to last year as the two teams slug it out.

I don't see a run and hide affair for the Cowboys. I think if the two teams played four times, I'd guess Texas might win three of them. Here's hoping Saturday is the fourth. If it is winnable, I can't go against OSU. This game could be educational as there are standout coaches on each side of the field. I really believe that it will come down to a field goal and I believe Dan Bailey will hit his first career walk-off kick.
OKLAHOMA STATE 27, TEXAS 24

Big 12 Predictions
Nebraska 20, @Baylor 14
Missouri 28, @Colorado 17
@Texas A&M 31, Iowa State 24
@Texas Tech 42, Kansas 36
@Oklahoma 35, Kansas State 14

Last Week's Games
Oklahoma State 41, @Baylor 17
@Nebraska 28, Iowa State 20
Oklahoma 38, @Kansas 14
@Texas Tech 70, Texas A&M 21
@Kansas State 27, Colorado 24
Texas 34, @Missouri 20

Season Record
Straight: 51-16
ATS: 34-21-1
Note: Games involving FCS teams do not have lines

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